Wednesday, 01 Oct, 2014

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Brazil boosts Orlando parks

Amid concerns that the economic turmoil in Europe could erode transatlantic travel, Orlando's theme parks have been buoyed by growth in the number of visitors from the increasingly affluent Brazil.

Brazil's economy is accelerating, fuelled by preparations for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics and a stabilised political environment. Moreover, the Brazilian real has soared against the US dollar, giving travellers from the country more purchasing power.

Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando all say they have benefitted from the boom.

"We are seeing a very robust international market this year, with significant improvement over prior years," Jim Atchison, president and chief executive officer of SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, said in an interview.

SeaWorld has had four consecutive years of attendance growth from Brazil. The country has become one of the company's three most important international markets, along with Canada and the UK, and the group now has four full-time representatives in the region, up from just one a few years ago.

Although it does not discuss precise figures, Disney World said Brazilian attendance grew by a double-digit percentage in summer 2011, and this was on top of a similarly strong performance from that country last year.

Disney hired 51 'super greeters' from Brazil last year to help work with tour groups from that country and from others in Latin America.

Those employees are spread among the resort's four theme parks, the Downtown Disney retail area and several hotels, including the value-priced Disney's All-Star Resorts and the moderately priced Disney's Port Orleans Resort, Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort and Disney's Coronado Springs Resort.

A spokesman for Disney World said 2011 has been "one of our best-ever years for Brazilian attendance and resort-hotel room-nights."

According to official figures, between 350,000 and 400,000 Brazilians visited Central Florida in 2010.